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VOLUNTEERING AT GROUNDWORK “This opportunity has helped me decide that this could be the career for me and now I have the experience for when I come to find a job after university”


Introducing GROUNDWORK GROUNDWORK is the community charity with a green heart. We are committed to changing places and changing lives in the areas that need it most, by:

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Improving people’s prospects Promoting greener living and working Creating better places

GROUNDWORK Leeds operates across Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees. We work on hundreds of projects each year and focus our activity on disadvantaged communities where we feel we can make most difference.

Why volunteer? You may be looking to gain work experience and broaden your horizons, fulfil your passion for environmental issues and community regeneration, or simply spend a few hours a week working on projects which benefit your community. We can offer something to suit everyone. Volunteering with Groundwork can help improve your employability - in fact many of our existing staff began their careers with us as volunteers - or can help fulfil requirements of university or college courses.

Do you need a year in industry as part of your course or to find a work experience placement? Look no further. We specialise in providing first class placement opportunities for students. We also provide role-specific training, and there may be opportunities to attend relevant courses and gain accreditation.

This booklet is filled with examples of our typical volunteering opportunities and is intended to give you a broad idea of what we can offer. If you’d like to volunteer with us but don’t see your ideal role listed, we may be able to tailor a placement to suit your needs so please get in touch.


Typical volunteer roles Community Engagement Take part in community consultations or assist with the development and delivery of projects which aim to create stronger, more sustainable communities through engagement and participation.

“My voluntary placement was a wonderful experience. I always looked forward to my days at Groundwork. I felt a sense of belonging and like I was contributing indirectly to my immediate community.�

Youth Work Help us to prepare young people to access employment, education or training. This may involve supporting 13-19 year olds in small groups or on a one-to-one basis with numeracy, art, photography, media, ICT, literacy, and personal social development. You could also work in an outdoor setting to help deliver woodland management and horticulture tasks, or support young learners to put together portfolios for their vocational courses.

Education Work alongside our experienced education staff to develop the environmental knowledge and skills of children, young people and adults.

There may also be opportunities to work within a school setting, deliver one to one mentoring/coaching and undertake outreach youth work activities.


Climate Change Our climate change programme offers a varied range of opportunities for volunteers. Tasks might include researching funding opportunities, assisting with school sessions, providing energy efficiency advice, or researching new technologies – you could even be a volunteer Green Doctor!

Environmental Business Services Work with our environmental business advisors to assist companies in assessing and reducing their environmental impact.

Corporate Volunteering We aim to liberate corporate workers from behind their desks and provide them with a rewarding and worthwhile experience when participating on one of our programmes. Whether your requirements are a fantastic teambuilding experience or making a contribution to disadvantaged communities, Groundwork can devise a suitable event for your organisation.


Volunteer stories Naomi Harriott-Brown Education Volunteer

“My degree teaches me the theories behind the issues which are important to me, whilst my volunteering role has enabled me to put them into practise on the ground.” Naomi would encourage anyone interested in the environmental sector to gain voluntary experience, whether or not they have a long term career plan:

Naomi undertook a voluntary placement at Groundwork prior to completing the final year of her degree in Human Geography, primarily to gain some hands-on work experience and help decide what career path to take once she’d graduated. With a passion for conservation and keeness to share her knowledge with others, she was an obvious choice for our education team. Volunteering for 30 hours a week she worked mainly on schools projects helping deliver Forest Schools sessions, write session plans, and update the team’s blog. She learnt a lot about teaching at primary level and how to interact with different children, keep them on task, and inspire and challenge them. She said:

“It’s really useful to gain voluntary experience before entering the job market, particularly if you want to work in the third sector. Groundwork is a great place to do this as you get to experience a range of environment-related areas of work in a relaxed and friendly environment, and the placement is tailored to suit you.”


Will Smith

Volunteer Landscape Architect

In addition he gained confidence in using AutoCAD as well as presenting his work to contractors and planners in a professional way.

Will volunteered with Groundwork for six months after graduating with a BA in Landscape Architecture and MSc in Urban Regeneration. He said:

When asked what has been the best thing about the placement, Will said that gaining knowledge of the design process in a professional environment had been invaluable:

“Despite having good academic qualifications I found it difficult to get work without the relevant experience. Groundwork offered me the chance to boost my CV and employability.”

“The placement really boosted my confidence in terms of my own design and creative ability, and it has shown me that I really do want to become a Landscape Architect. I now feel more positive when applying for jobs and presenting my portfolio.”

He worked on a variety of projects, carrying out site surveys and analysis, producing visuals, preparing construction details and project costings, and consulting with contactors and community members. He gained hands-on experience of the planning process, developed his negotiation skills, and gained a better understanding of voluntary sector funding.

Two months before Will’s placement was due to end he secured a full time Landscape Architect role with a prestigious UK firm. He has no doubt that the experience gained at Groundwork helped him achieve this.

Left: Will’s design visual for Clyde Walk, Leeds


International volunteering We would like to increase our capacity to provide placements for volunteers from across the world after our successful involvement in the European Year of Volunteering 2011. Groundwork is proud to have hosted international volunteers from Nigeria, Costa Rica and Italy - so far - who have been undertaking European Voluntary Service (EVS) in the UK and other long-term placements.

Tatiana Abarca

International Volunteer Costa Rican student Tatiana was our first international EVS volunteer. She worked within our education and communities staff nine months and developed skills in teaching and community engagement as well improving her English language skills. She worked on a selection of projects and tasks, from developing activities around Co2 for primary school children, to assisting with the construction of an eco building in the grounds of a local high school. She excelled at working with young people and building their interest in the environment: “This placement has given me a lot of motivation for my future career in environmental policy. I have really enjoyed learning how to share my interest and passion in the environment through teaching.�

Other areas of work included completing community consultations around environmental improvements and anti-social behaviour. These exercises boosted her understanding and practical skills in community engagement and development. Tatiana felt she was able to return to Costa Rica with new skills and experience, and put her learning into practise in her local community: “I am really pleased that I started this placement - it has really exceeded my expectations and


Mentoring and coaching Be a mentor or an achievement coach and help young people to make positive progressions in their lives

If you are enthusiastic, can motivate others and be a positive role model to young people aged 11-19, youth mentoring and achievement coaching could be ideal for you. Possibly one of our most rewarding and challenging volunteer roles, you would intensively mentor/coach young people on a one-to-one basis within a school or college setting to help them make positive progressions in their lives and to achieve their potential. You would need to be able to commit to mentoring a young person once a week for a minimum of six months.

You would also need to be: • • • • • • • •

Patient Reliable A good listener Non-judgemental A motivator Understanding Quick thinking Encouraging and approachable

And above all aspire to help young people to achieve.

Training will be provided.


Get in touch If you’ve been inspired by the information and stories in this booklet and are interested in volunteering with Groundwork, please contact Leah Black, Capacity Build Co-ordinator (Youth & Volunteering) with any questions or to request an application pack.

0113 238 0601 leah.black@groundwork.org.uk www.groundwork.org.uk/leeds

Volunteering at Groundwork  

A summary of volunteering opportunities available with Groundwork in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees